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Midway through spring practice, Tennessee C Cooper Mays weighs in on LSU transfer Lance Heard

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There will be quite a few new additions when the Volunteers take the field this fall. One who is eagerly awaited by fans is sophomore offensive lineman and LSU transfer Lance Heard. Heard played in all 12 games his freshman year with the Tigers and was selected to the 2023 SEC All-Freshman Team.  

We previously asked veteran center Cooper Mays what his initial impressions were of the big man from Louisiana, but he hadn’t yet seen much of Heard at that time. So, now that we are midway through spring ball, we asked him again. 

“He’s strong,” Mays told the Vol Report. “He’s pretty strong. You know, he’s got heavy hands. He’s very lengthy. So that’s very important at the tackle position. That’s helped him out a lot. And you know, he’s still young. So, he’s got some stuff to work out and little kinks in the chain or whatever that he’s got to figure out. But the canvas is there for sure.” 

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Mays will be working closely with Heard on the offensive line. Mays has always self-described as a quiet leader – but what can someone new to the team like Heard expect to hear from his center before the game?  

“Personally, I think if you need a big speech for a game, then (I’m) probably the wrong guy for the job, you know?” Mays admitted. “I don’t really like to talk a lot, you know, I say some words to the O-line or whatever before the game, but I don’t like talking to the whole group because I also know that there’s 125 people all in one group. So theoretically, probably only the interior, maybe 17 people I would say, can probably actually hear what you’re saying. And then when you get outside that you’re catching like one out of every five words and then you don’t really know what’s going on.” 

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The reserved Mays does acknowledge that he can drum up an impassioned speech to his O-line when needed. “This is like a ‘set the tone’ kind of thing,” Mays said. Don’t ask him to do it on command though. He has to be in the moment. “I can’t fake stuff like that. It’s honestly like there’s some days where I just know that you can’t be as impassionate because I just can’t… I can’t fake it some days.” 

“Usually every time I speak, I feel like I hit the nail on the head,” Mays said. “But I don’t know, I feel like I do a pretty decent job. I mean, it gets me fired up personally… I guess leaders come in all different shapes and sizes, you know?”

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